Three key take-aways from ACT Expo 2022
More than 8,600 people traveled to Long Beach, California to attend the recent Advanced Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo, North America’s largest advanced transportation technology and clean fleet event. Major retailers were in attendance looking to decarbonize their fleets, gaining insight into the latest developments, policies, and technologies in clean transportation solutions.
This year’s ACT Expo featured the largest collection of clean vehicle and fuel solutions the industry has ever seen, with nearly 200 exhibitors on hand. If you couldn’t make it out to Long Beach this year, here are three key takeaways from the 2022 ACT Expo.
1. Hydrogen is a promising solution for the demanding requirements of heavy-duty trucking.
Hydrogen has a lot going for it, including a couple of possible powertrain options for the future: hydrogen fuel cells and internal combustion engines. Hydrogen is energy dense and, when produced with renewable electricity, it’s considered “green” and carbon free.
Hydrogen fuel cells are a zero-emissions solution with the flexibility, power and range that long-haul, heavy-duty trucks require. Compared to battery electric vehicles, fuel cell vehicles also offer fast fueling and lighter weight – hydrogen tanks weigh thousands of pounds less than battery packs on electric trucks, which also cut into cargo capacity.
Internal combustion engines powered by H2, like the 15-liter X15H Cummins debuted in Long Beach, can use zero-carbon fuel at a lower initial price than a fuel-cell or battery-electric vehicle, with little modification to today's vehicles. Additionally, Cummins plans to release a 6.7-liter hydrogen engine that like the 15-liter, will be built on Cummins’ new fuel-agnostic platform where below the head gasket, each fuel type’s engine has largely similar components, and above the head gasket, each has different components for different fuel types.
While battery electric and fuel cell electric powertrains are key to achieving a net-zero future, the pairing of green hydrogen with the proven technology of internal combustion engines provides an important complement to future zero-emissions solutions. Put simply: these engines look like engines, they sound like engines and fit where engines normally fit.
Cummins also announced it will collaborate with Daimler Truck North America (DTNA, Portland, Ore., U.S.) to upfit and validate Freightliner Cascadia trucks with a Cummins fourth generation hydrogen fuel cell powertrain for use in North America. First units are slated to be available in 2024.
2. Natural gas is an immediate and cost-effective solution to achieve not only net-zero carbon operations, but negative carbon emissions.;
The California Natural Gas Vehicle Partnership (CNGVP) was in attendance to promote natural gas fuel technology and its immediate carbon-negative benefits. In 2021, approximately 98% of natural gas used for transportation in California came from methane emitted by renewable sources, including landfill waste, livestock manure, wastewater treatment plants, food and green waste, dead trees, and agricultural waste. Capturing and harnessing the methane emissions from these sources as a renewable fuel is the most immediate and effective step that can be taken to reduce GHG emissions, as reported by the world’s leading climate scientists during the COP26 summit in Scotland in November 2021.
There’s no trade off when it comes to performance, either. Cummins displayed its near-zero emissions X15N 15-liter natural gas engine for the North American freight transportation market, which offers reduced package size and weight compared to diesel, and power and torque curves almost identical to diesel. Designed as a solution for Class 8 freight trucks, the engine offers ratings up to 500 hp and 1,850 lb-ft of torque, enabling fleets to achieve powerful performance even in mountainous terrains. Typical tank packages on natural gas trucks allow for at least 750 miles of driving between refueling, which can be accomplished in only 15 minutes.
Trucks powered by Cummins’ X15N engine will have a lower total cost of operation (TCO) than their diesel counterparts. This engine will arrive in production in the U.S. in 2024
3. The decarbonization challenge in transportation is too great for a single solution.
If there was anything to be learned from walking the floor at this year’s expo, it is that there are many solutions along the path to zero, and incremental improvements can have big benefits. The challenge to achieve zero emissions in the commercial transportation industry is greater because of the significant diversity of applications, unlike passenger cars—and reaching net-zero emissions won’t be a “light switch” event. The industry needs multiple solutions to meet the needs of all on- and off-highway customers and all applications considering the variety of duty cycles and operating environments. Infrastructure investment, regulatory advancements, and customer requirements all drive the pace of transition.
Cummins is embracing the opportunity to be part of the solution to the problem of climate change by pursuing reductions of GHGs from both internal combustion engines and new technologies through its Destination Zero strategy. The commitment to net-zero emissions requires changes to Cummins’ products and the energy sources that power them, and this work requires collaboration and leadership from governments, utilities, and other industries. Because so many partners will influence these changes, Cummins employees around the world are working in their communities to move this important work forward.